Financial Appeal from the Pastor
Dear Parishioners of St. Gertrude Church,
As I look around at our parish community I am truly amazed by the level of encouragement we have in Christ. It is indeed God’s holy will that we are united in love as we share in our parish commitment to bring many people to Christ. The love for Jesus Christ, the participation in the sacramental life, and our thirst for souls, is alive and well in our parish community. I ask myself often, "Why do people from all over Cincinnati, and far beyond, come to St. Gertrude Church?"
- Many parishioners have answered that question for me this year: The most common answer is that our parishioners love the reverence for the Sacred Liturgy that is celebrated by the Dominican friars. There is an assurance here that Mass will be celebrated well and in line with the directives of the Church.
- Many state they come because this parish is a real part of their family heritage and a major part of their family identity.
- Others state it is because they love the strong devotional and sacramental life of the parish, especially the availability of confession and Eucharistic Adoration.
- Many state that they love the Dominican flavor of our parish. They are attracted to the strong and orthodox preaching, the 800 years of Dominican tradition, and of course the great blessing of having our novices among us.
- Many are happy that we have a parochial school with firm discipline and excellent academics. They love the presence of our habited Dominican sisters, and our dedicated faculty and staff.
- Many are thrilled with an excellent CCD Program, Youth Programs, Young Adult Fellowship, and a great Adult Faith Formation Program that is taught by the Dominican friars. We have over 50 parish organizations that are doing so much for the building up of our parish and community. So much good is being accomplished.
For all these reasons, and many more I am sure, parishioners come from all over to share the life of our parish. This year alone we had increased our parish and welcomed 217 new families to our community.
We are very blessed that 78% of our registered parishioners give regularly to the parish in the offertory. This is absolutely unprecedented for any parish! Most parishes are happy if they are able to have 50% offertory participation, while the average parish envelope participation is about 35-45%. The sense of financial stewardship is strong in our parish. This parish understands stewardship very well. As your pastor I wish to thank all of you who make so many sacrifices to financially support the parish.
Last fall I came before you to address the issue of financial stewardship. I asked each family to prayerfully consider increasing your weekly offering by $5 so we could assume the interest payment on our debt right from the regular offertory. You responded beautifully. We indeed were able to raise an additional $200,000.00 to cover the interest payment. I come before you again this fall to speak to you about our on-going Stewardship Initiatives. We need to have before us an awareness of the need for continued financial stewardship. Please prayerfully evaluate your financial giving and continue your parish stewardship as a response to all the blessings that God has given to you and your family. Our fall Stewardship Initiative begins this weekend with my address to you and will continue through the weekend of Sunday, October 16.
While we are always concerned to balance our budget and increase our offertory giving, securing a contribution from all parishioners at any level is very important. If you do not use your envelopes, I encourage you to begin. If you do not give, can you now begin to discern a contribution to the parish on a regular basis? Along with the leadership given by the Dominican friars, it goes without saying that we all share the responsibility for the continued growth of our parish community. Your financial commitment to stewardship not only allows us to maintain stability, but is also an affirmation of the mission we share to spread the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the next 4 weeks, parishioners will receive a series of mailings from the parish, witness a brief address at Mass from representatives from our Finance Council or Stewardship Committee, and have the opportunity to read the Annual Parish Report that will be printed in our bulletin. We will introduce everyone to the "commitment cards" that families should take home to discern what their sacrificial gift might be for the year. During this initiative, you will be reminded about the commitment cards and the importance of returning them to church. And finally you will have the opportunity to track the progress of this stewardship throughout the parish.
We will be corresponding with those who have submitted their pledge and will be sending reminders to those who have not. If you happen to forget or misplace your commitment card, we will have extra cards available in the pews each week. Finally, on the last weekend of our fall Stewardship Initiative we will provide everyone with a status update and encourage any last minute pledges to be submitted. We will also be starting up our Stewardship Sundays again at that time.
As you prayerfully discern what your financial stewardship will be for the next year and make your commitment, I ask you once again to consider increasing your contribution by $5. To those who have not, maybe this is the time to consider this increase. To those who have, making another increase of only $5, or any increase at all, will be a great boost to our parish stability. Your increase of $5 will help us deal with several pressing issues of capital improvement to our parish facility, namely:
- Our sound system is a mess and needs attention.
- The kitchen in the Parish Center needs immediate repairs.
- The air conditioning and heating system is very old and needs to be updated.
- The organ is on its last leg, and we have had to repair it several times this year.
- And as always the on-going and never ending maintenance issues that plague any parish campus.
- As we anticipate the need to make these improvements in the next few years, I want all of you to know that we are already planning for our next Capital Campaign in 2016. Our parish is growing in leaps and bounds. Praise God! Not only do we have to address the payment of our debt. We also have to address the need to build. We do not have enough space to accommodate all the parish organizations and programing of the parish.
- We have to consolidate the parish staff that is scattered all throughout the parish complex. Parish staff members are now in the school, thus limiting the ability for the school to have its own meeting space and work areas.
- We will be working with the Province of St. Joseph concerning the possibility of expanding the priory and novitiate. With the blessing of so many vocations comes the need to provide adequate space for our novitiate.
By making a simple increase in your weekly offertory for the next year, and addressing some of our more immediate needs, we can best be postured to address the Capital Campaign that is planned for 2016.
Much has been asked of you through the years and you have always responded so well. For that, I am most grateful. I simply ask that you prayerfully reflect on your blessings and come forward with a gift that reflects your gratefulness to God and all we have to be thankful for as a parish community. On behalf of a very grateful pastor, and on behalf of the Dominican friars who are so blessed to serve you, I thank you for your on-going financial stewardship and support.
The journey of faith and love is very real in our parish community. Let us all do our part to keep the vision alive. Thank you and may God bless all of you, and may God bless our beloved St. Gertrude Parish.
A blessed week to all.
Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor